Press Release: City of Bonners Ferry, Community Partners Collaborate to Help Children Get Active, Access Healthy Foods

Photo courtesy of the Bonners Ferry Herald

The High Five Community Transformation Grant helped fund community projects and programs to make Bonners Ferry a healthier community

Bonners Ferry, Idaho – Three years of collaboration, learning and working yielded a new appreciation for community health, as well as projects and programs that will help make the City of Bonners Ferry a healthier community. This effort was the result of a High Five Community Transformation Grant the city received from the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health.

The grant was a three-year collaborative process from 2017-2019 as a team of city and community leaders, including school district officials and business owners, engaged in a process to better understand the challenges, assets and needs of the community. The group then developed an action plan that led to the projects and programs designed to create opportunities for children to be active and access healthy foods.

The Community Transformation Grant is different from traditional grants in that it provides more than funding. The city had access to community data, state and national experts, and technical assistance to help build collaborative relationships that guided the decision making in determining what policies, programs and projects to pursue. The team of community leaders collaborated to choose how the $250,000 in grant funding would be used.

“We watched dynamic partnerships form in Bonners Ferry with the goal of creating sustainable change,” said Kendra Witt-Doyle, Executive Director, Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health. “These partnerships and relationships created will live on long after the grant ended. This grant is about so much more than the physical projects.”

“We, the school district, are grateful for the tremendous amount of collaboration and support from the steering committee and city,” said Jan Bayer, Boundary County School District Superintendent. “The completed projects provide our students safe and healthy activities during and after school. The improvements made throughout the community are welcomed and make healthy activities exciting for students, families, and community members,”

The city also increased the impact of the Community Transformation Grant by leveraging nearly $210,000 in outside funding that contributed to the completion of some projects.

“The city was so excited to see how much we could leverage community with this project,” said Lisa Ailport, City Administrator. “From labor to money we saw a community come together for the betterment of our children and our community. The fact that we were able to do as many projects across the county shows our commitment as a city to the community as a whole.”

Below is a list of the projects and programs that the City of Bonners Ferry completed during the High Five Community Transformation Grant provided by the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health.

      • Rebuilt and refurbished the city’s 85-year old pool, replacing the pool stem walls and bringing the bathrooms in to compliance with ADA standards.
      • Constructed a splash pad at the city pool site, allowing young children who don’t swim the opportunity to enjoy water recreation.
      • Hosted a community education event around what is means to be a walkable community, with national public health expert Mark Fenton
      • Adopted a long-range bicycle and pedestrian plan, which will further opportunities for cyclists, runners and walkers to navigate the city.
      • Supported the University of Idaho and extension office summer nutrition and activities program, which supported children across the county.
      • Contributed to the Boundary County (BoCo) Backpack Program which provides healthy food on the weekends for around 160 children who qualify for free or reduced-price school lunch.
      • Constructed a running trail at the high school for the cross country team, students, and community to use for both running and walking.
      • Purchased cardiovascular exercise equipment for the high school weight room.
      • Supported the Boundary County Library backpack program that provided activities for local youth to engage with nature through the local wildlife refuge. The books educated children on birds and other animals that they may see while walking the trails at the refuge.
      • Purchased and installed bike racks around the city at key locations, such as the pools and local parks, to encourage more people to ride to destinations.
      • Sponsored a local bike rodeo at the hospital to teach bike safety and encourage children to ride bikes.
      • Funded an exercise equipment station at the county ballpark.
      • Created a playground in Moyie Springs, providing that city with its first play area. Prior children in this area had to travel to Bonners Ferry, over seven miles away to recreate at a park.  Many of the children in this area are low income and some don’t have the opportunity to travel for recreational enjoyment.
      • Supported the University of Idaho extension 4-H Friday Friends program that provides youth ages 5-12 a day of educational, experiential, and fun activities.
      • Purchased a gaga pit, a portable play area boundary, for Mt. Hall school. Mr. Hall Elementary is one of two small rural schools in the county. It is located about 10 miles north of the City of Bonners Ferry.
      • Valley View Elementary is our largest elementary in the county and located within the City limits of Bonners Ferry. The school requested to gravel an oval walking path at the school to allow both a school recess amenity but also could dove-tail as a community walking path for residents in the adjoining neighborhoods.
      • Purchased soccer goals and a gaga pit for Naples, Elementary. Naples Elementary is one of two small rural schools in the county.  It is located about 10 miles south of the City of Bonners Ferry.
      • Gardeners for Regional Organic Wellbeing (GROW) created little free gardens placed around the city. The gardens were one of the opportunities to tackle healthy eating as part of the grant.  GROW placed over 20 little free gardens throughout the city.
    • To learn more about the Community Transformation Grant process, view this report.